Article Index |Advertise | Mobile | RSS | Wireless | Newsletter | Archive | Corrections | Syndication | Contact us | About Us| Services
  Breaking News :    
Century Properties
Geo Estate

Get the free INQUIRER newsletter
Enter your email address:

Inquirer Entertainment Type Size: (+) (-)
You are here: Home > Showbiz & Style > Inquirer Entertainment

     Reprint this article     Print this article  
    Send Feedback  
    Post a comment   Share  


Zoom ImageZoom   

CANNES ON HIS CAP. Filipino director Brillante Mendoza poses after receiving the Best Director award for his movie "Kinatay", during the photo call at the closing ceremony of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival Sunday in Cannes, southern France. AFP/ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT



Mendoza is best director at Cannes

By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:15:00 05/26/2009

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Cinema, Awards and Prizes

MANILA, Philippines?In a stunning dark horse triumph, Filipino filmmaker Brillante ?Dante? Mendoza won the Best Director prize for ?Kinatay? at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival on Sunday (Monday morning in Manila).

?I feel like I?m floating,? Mendoza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an exclusive phone interview from France, minutes after his win in the world?s most prestigious film festival. ?I?m so happy.?

Mendoza bested past Oscar and Cannes winners, like Taiwan?s Ang Lee, Spain?s Pedro Almodovar, New Zealand?s Jane Campion, Denmark?s Lars von Trier, and the United States? Quentin Tarantino.

As the first Filipino to win the Best Director prize in Cannes, he joins the list of revered filmmakers who have won the coveted prize, including Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Luis Buuel, Robert Bresson, Costa Gavras, Bernard Tavernier, Werner Herzog, Robert Altman, Joel Coen and Gus Van Sant.

Calling from backstage at the Palais? Salle Lumiere, where the awards ceremony was held, Mendoza told the Inquirer that winning the Best Director prize was ?vindication? after his film was pummeled by critics?just like ?Serbis,? his Main Competition entry in Cannes last year.

?Kinatay,? which means massacre, is a gritty look at the slow butchering of a prostitute with blunt kitchen knives.

?Serbis,? is about a family who lives in and operates a run-down porn theater with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets.

Real stories

Both films background the Philippines? poor, with ?Kinatay? chronicling a day in the life of a young police officer that begins with his wedding and closes with his involvement in the rape, murder and hacking into pieces of a prostitute.

?This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real,? Mendoza said.

He said he felt validated standing by his aesthetic choices. ?It feels good. The sting of all the negative reviews is lessened because, in the end, the director?s message was heard.?

Mendoza?s Cannes triumph is all the more significant because it came only two days after National Artist Lino Brocka?s 18th death anniversary on May 22.

Historic triumph

Filipino filmmaker Mel Chionglo told the Inquirer: ?It?s a first for Philippine movies. Dante has triumphed where even the great Lino Brocka had failed to win a prize. Now, Dante has really flung open the doors for Filipino films internationally.?

Chionglo added that his colleagues in the Directors? Guild of the Philippines Inc., of which Mendoza is also a board member, are ?mighty proud of this historic triumph.?

Raymond Red?s film ?Anino? won the Palme D?Or for Short Film in 2000, but it?s the first time for the country to win in the Cannes? Main Competition. ?It?s the first major award from one of the top three festivals in the world: Cannes, Berlin and Venice,? Chionglo said Monday.

Brocka, the first Filipino to be exhibited and to compete in Cannes in the 1970s, never won in the festival, but is largely credited for paving the way for today?s generation of Filipino filmmakers, he related.

Brocka must be cheering

Richard and Mary Corliss of Time magazine called Mendoza ?the forlorn hope of Philippine cinema.?

Mendoza?s triumph was regarded as a surprise because this year?s competition was touted by Variety as the ?biggest heavyweight auteur smackdown in recent years.?

Although it was called ?divisive and controversial,? it was generally commended for its technical competence by Cannes critics.

In an interview with the Inquirer Monday, talent manager and Brocka friend Ed Instrella said: ?Seeing Brillante?s name among the world?s best in competition is a great honor in itself. Brocka must be cheering him loudly up where he is now. Surely, Brillante must be doing something good.?

Tarantino defends

Tarantino himself, whose entry ?Inglourious Basterds? was also panned by critics, singled out ?Kinatay? as ?extraordinary.?

He told Metro, a French newspaper: ?I?d gladly defend ?Kinatay? ? it reminded me of Brian de Palma.?

Filipino actress Mercedes Cabral, who was in the cast of two award-winning films (?Kinatay? and ?Thirst?) in this year?s Cannes, told the Inquirer Monday: ?I?m so proud to have worked with Direk Dante.?

Collective gasp, boos

It was reported that the announcement of Mendoza?s win as best director was met with a collective gasp, followed by boos.

(According to the New York Times, the announcement of the Jury Prize winners, British Andrea Arnold?s ?Fish Tank? and Korean Park Chan-Wook?s ?Thirst,? was also greeted by hisses.)

In a press conference attended by jury members, a reporter asked jurors to comment on the audience?s reaction.

The nine-member Cannes jury headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert defended Mendoza, as well as their other choices.


Juror Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a filmmaker from Turkey, told the press: ?It?s the most powerful film in the selection. It?s one of the most original ? It created [its own] style for the subject matter.?

Juror Hanif Kureishi, a screenwriter from United Kingdom, conceded at the press conference: ?It?s not a date movie. I wouldn?t suggest that you bring your lover to watch it. It?s not a film I would see again. But good art is sometimes hard.?

In justifying their picks, jury president Huppert said: ?We found ourselves being attracted to the same films ? movies that deserve to get the world?s attention.?

Mendoza related: ?Isabelle Huppert told me that, from start to finish, she couldn?t take her eyes off my film.?

Asian films

Mendoza?s triumph comes in a year that marked a strong showing of Asian films in particular, and of ?violent, dark? themes in general.

Mendoza said his message was simple: ?It?s a dangerous world out there. We can no longer afford to feel safe and complacent. That?s why I didn?t want to make the audience feel detached while watching my film. I wanted to take them on a journey that will immerse them ? as witnesses to a brutal murder.?

Mendoza shared two wishes: That his own countrymen would ?appreciate? his kind of movies and that the Philippine government would beef up its support of local independent movies.

?I am aware that indie films are not commercial entertainment,? he said. ?But I also hope Filipinos won?t focus on the negative and will emphasize the positive instead.?

No. 1 critic

Mendoza admitted that the road to Cannes was ?long and arduous.?

?It?s sad,? he owned up. ?Sometimes I feel I?m all alone in this struggle. Sometimes I don?t feel welcome back home. I hope our countrymen will embrace my films, too.?

Mendoza said that he was sharing his award to all the Filipino filmmakers who had come before and would come after him.

In his acceptance speech, he shared his victory with his producer Didier Costet, his ?committed staff and crew? and his lead actor Coco Martin.

Mendoza also dedicated his award to 12-year-old daughter Angelica, his No. 1 critic.

?She was with me when I did the final sound mixing in Paris,? he recalled. ?But she had to go back to the Philippines for summer camp.?

The truth is not pretty

The Philippine government should ?recognize artists? efforts to bring honor to the country,? Mendoza said. ?It?s hard when you?re on your own in a foreign land. We need all the encouragement and support we could get.?

He added that the government shouldn?t limit itself to the promotion of films that ?showcase tourism?beautiful beaches and the countryside.?

?Let?s not live in the 1970s. Our films should tackle present-day realities,? Mendoza said.

It may not paint a pretty picture, he said, but it?s the truth. With reports from Ruben V. Nepales, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk.
Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate.
Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer
Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets,
Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94





  ^ Back to top

© Copyright 2001-2015 INQUIRER.net, An INQUIRER Company

Services: Advertise | Buy Content | Wireless | Newsletter | Low Graphics | Search / Archive | Article Index | Contact us
The INQUIRER Company: About the Inquirer | User Agreement | Link Policy | Privacy Policy

Jobmarket Online
Inquirer VDO
Property Guide
Inquirer Mobile